Plot: A group of airmen have been shot down and captured in a dense, remote Central American jungle, which makes a rescue quite difficult. But an elite squad of commandos has been assembled, one that has never failed in a mission. In the lead is Dutch Schaeffer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a tough as nails soldier who never backs down from an enemy, no matter how outgunned or outnumbered he is. At his side is a collection of riotous and skilled mercenaries, each with a certain area of expertise. In other words, an almost perfect team that has been hand chosen to handle intense, high risk missions like this one. The men land in the jungle and begin the search for the prisoners, but the area is hard to traverse. Even so, the squad soon discovers the base of operations and storms the compound. But the camp isn’t manned, at least it isn’t at the time, though there is ample evidence of violence. The bodies of the airmen are soon found, torn to shreds and decimated like no one has seen before. The sole survivor of whatever ravaged the compound is a woman, who is almost killed by the mercenaries. As the men leave the camp, they begin to notice unusual things, such as movement, even though no one is there. When the men start to be killed off one by one, what force lurks in the jungle that preys upon them?
Entertainment Value: One of the best action movies of all time, Predator balances high gloss production values, b movie cheese, and over the top set pieces in grand style, to craft a fun, highly rewatchable thrill ride. The narrative is great and turns some of the usual action movie tropes on their head, with an almost slasher movie vibe at times, as our hulking heroes are hunted down by a ruthless killing machine. These kind of hard ass mercenaries had dominated 80s action movies, so to see them on the defensive like this gives Predator a unique texture. Of course, the soldiers still have ample chances to show off their big guns and big mouths, but the change of pace is welcome and helps the movie stand out from the pack. The action scenes are intense and effective here, with a cat and mouse atmosphere that leads to bursts of violence, as the Predator moves from victim to victim. There’s also some more traditional action sequences before the showdown with the Predator, but it is the hunt itself that provides the more creative, memorable moments. As I said before, there are some b movie elements present here and that manifests in the over the top characters and cheesy one liners, both given ample screen time in Predator. In the end, this is big budget, Hollywood action at its most entertaining and for those interested in well crafted, over the top, high polish action, Predator is one of the best.
The cast of this movie is so colorful and fun to watch, a handshake proves to be an iconic moment. The handshake heard round the world is just one instance of how awesome this cast is, however. Of course, our lead is the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger, who brings his peak action hero skills to the table and delivers the kind of effort that made him an action legend. He looks bad ass, handles heavy weapons like a bad ass, and goes toe to toe with an outer space big game hunter like a bad ass, in other words, Arnold is pure bad ass in Predator. His duel with the Predator is a classic finale, but he is fun to watch throughout and his interactions with his costars have chemistry to burn, especially with Carl Weathers. Jesse Ventura has a memorable role here as well, with some of the movie’s most quotable lines, including the timeless “ain’t got time to bleed” that broke into pop culture. The cast also includes Bill Duke, R.G. Armstrong, Elpidia Carrillo, and of course, Sven-Ole Thorsen.
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